Montgomerie, Langer ready to battle tough U.S. Senior Open course
It’s been three days since the conclusion of that absolutely insane U.S. Open final round, where it seemed more guys had a shot at winning our national championship than entered the event. The good news? We get to do it all over again this weekend, in Sacramento, for the U.S. Senior Open championship.
Sure, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are a few years away from joining the Champions Tour, but that doesn’t mean the action won’t be fun at a really beautiful golf course in the capital city of California.
Here are some things to keep your eye on as the action gets going at Del Paso Country Club. FOX Sports 1 television coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET Thursday.
This place is completely different than Chambers Bay. If you were one of those at home complaining about the look of the golf course in University Place, Wash., you’re in luck, because Del Paso couldn’t be more different. It has an old-style country club feel and greens that are so pure you almost want to give back your hotel room key and just snuggle up on these bad boys for the week.
Kyle Phillips and his team gave Del Paso a makeover in 2006, and the result is a long, long golf course for these players. Stretching nearly 7,000 yards and at a par-70, expect to see a lot of hybrids in hand throughout the week no matter if it’s a second shot into some of the par-4s — the third hole is 490 yards! — or off the tee on one of the five par-3s.
Three players in the field also played at Chambers Bay. Sure, Lee Janzen and Miguel Angel Jimenez missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but it was a very solid week for Colin Montgomerie, who opened up with a 1-under 69 on his way to a T-64 finish. Speaking of Monty …
Monty has been an animal since joining the Champions Tour. Since turning 50, Montgomerie has finished in the top three in five of 11 major starts, winning three of them — including the U.S. Senior Open a year ago. The guy has turned into a major hoarder after not winning a single one during his career on the PGA Tour. After battling the youngsters at Chambers Bay, I’m sure seeing both this golf course and his fellow competitors will be enough to re-energize the 52-year-old.
The closing stretch will be a bear. I’ve already told you that Del Paso will play long, but — my goodness — the final four holes will be a serious test in patience. The 15th is a 636-yard par-5 (not a single par-5 played close to that Sunday at the U.S. Open), and the 16th may be the toughest hole on the property. You’ll see as many players laying up to that par-4 as you will laying up on the first, a par-5, especially if they get out of position off the tee. After that, there’s a 225-yard par-3 over water followed by the 18th, a 460-yard par-4 which has a hazard short of the green. If you finish par-par-par-par on this stretch you should get a free milkshake in the clubhouse or something.
Kevin Sutherland will be the fan favorite at Del Paso. The only man to shoot a 59 in Champions Tour history comes into this week with some extra weight on his shoulders. A Sacramento boy who played golf at Fresno State, Sutherland will have as many fans following him as Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Jimenez.
Bernhard Langer will be trying for back-to-back major titles. The “Tiger Woods in 2000” of the Champions Tour, Langer has won two majors in a row on this tour only once, and that was in 2010. Langer hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in a major since the 2013 U.S. Senior Open, a stretch of nine straight, and his win at the Senior Players looked a lot like the form we saw him in a year ago (21 starts, 20 top-25s, 18 top-10s, five wins in ‘14).
Two FOX broadcasters will be playing at Del Paso. Not only is Corey Pavin in the field, but our main man Jay Delsing qualified and will be trading in the microphone for a knockdown 5-iron. Speaking of the broadcast, one of the special things about this year is, for the first time, you will get to see all 18 holes of the leaders over the weekend. It’ll be a relaxed atmosphere compared to what we all saw a week ago, but nothing can get too relaxed between the ropes as major winner after major winner, Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer, is there trying to beat the rest of the field — just like Spieth did in Washington, and just like Montgomerie did a year ago at Oak Tree.